Coffee Chat celebrates Redmond's unique history
By TIM WATANABE
Redmond Reporter Sports Reporter
August 6, 2010 · 12:21 PM
Held on the first Friday of each month, the Redmond Senior Center's "Coffee Chat" series allows residents to learn more about various programs and services in the community.
On Aug. 6, attendees were treated to a presentation by Judy Lang and Christine Himes of the Redmond Historical Society, which was founded 10 years ago by 22 charter members to help preserve Redmond's history.
Since then, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds.
"From those 22 people, we now have 250 paid memberships, and a newsletter that we put out free of charge by mail or e-mail to over 1,000 people," marveled Lang. "We didn't plan to be a museum ... but we want to preserve and share Redmond's history through photos, oral histories, and just make people aware of what our area looked like at one time."
Lang, who was born and raised in Redmond, and Himes, who has been in the area 46 years, both shared memorable stories of the city before it became the sprawling suburban oasis it is today.
"In 1964, I came here with my family and ended up on 116th, another street that is closed today," laughed Himes. "That was when Redmond had between 5-7,000 people."
Himes added that the year she moved to Redmond, the city installed its first stoplight.
"It wasn't even a red and green one," she recalled. "Just a cautionary signal."
The chat was highlighted by a fun trivia game where attendees were tested on their knowledge of Redmond's history.
While some questions were easier, such as Redmond's current tagline being "The Bicycle Capital of the Northwest," most were challenging to even the historically polished old-timers.
Did you know, for example, that the four official historical landmarks in Redmond are the Old Redmond Schoolhouse, United Methodist Church, Redmond Cemetery and the Oddfellows building on Leary Way?
And Himes surprised everyone by including herself as the answer to the question: "Who was Redmond's first woman mayor?"
"They called me Hurricane Himes," said Himes, who served from 1980-1983. "I just changed everything, turned it all around and got rid of what was not working."
Redmond will be celebrating its centennial in 2012, and the Society has some big plans to welcome the city's 100th year with a bang.
"We have been accumulating (things)... so we can present some history of the city of Redmond for its 100 years of being around," Himes stated.
The group has already put in five exhibits in the new liquor store downtown and has a booth at the popular Saturday Market at Redmond Town Center.
But as a non-profit, the Society thrives on grants and donations to stay afloat, something that Lang and Himes were certain to acknowledge.
They said they have had six lifetime memberships given to the Society at $1,000 apiece, and the now-defunct Sammamish Valley News gave them 8,000 photo negatives for historical archiving.
"We were really pleased that those wonderful people came forth to help us out," Himes said. "We don't have a huge budget and being a non-profit, we have to (rely) on grants a lot."
And the Society has received a lot of support from the city itself, helping ensure Redmond's colorful history remains preserved for future generations.
"The City of Redmond helps us by giving us free rent in the community center, and they print our newsletter and mail it for us and let us use their auditorium at no cost," Himes noted. "Without all that, we probably would be out of business."
For more information on the Redmond Historical Society, visit their Web site at www.redmondhistoricalsociety.orgContact Redmond Reporter Sports Reporter Tim Watanabe at email@example.com or (425) 867-0353, ext. 5054.